9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 31, 2007
A must read for anybody who manages remote team members. There are lots of books out there for the telecommuter but it is so hard to find information on how to manage telecommuters. This book is fantastic. It not only fills a huge knowledge gap, it does it with incredible clarity, insight and in an easy-to-read writing style. I cannot say enough good things about this book. It gives a whole different perspective on the differences betwen the various types of virtual environments and the challenges associated with each. The author does an excellent job of describing a situation, explaining what happens, why it happens , what the manager could do differently and includes excellent examples to help drive the point home. I have been managing virtual team members for a couple of years. Not all my team members work remotely and I fell into the trap of managing local team members and practically ignoring the remote ones. My remote team members now are happier each week as I implement more and more of the great ideas in this book. A must read for anyone managing team members long distance.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2007
I've worked on both sides of the wall, as the virtual manager and the virtual employee. This book gives great insights on how to make this work. The examples and analogies in the book are excellent and easy to apply to real world situations. I especially liked the information on communication styles and how different people react and interact to each other.
This book contains a lot of information about things that might not occur to you that you need to know about managing or working virtually.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2007
One indication that a concept's time has come is the addition to Micosoft's product line of software to facilitate that concept. Such is the case with Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 Team System. Here is a simple to get project developent package oriented to software design, development, testing by people scattered among work groups around the world.
This book, however, carries on with the managerial side of team development rather than the mechanics of how the software works. The managerial side has to handle mundane problems like language, time zone changes, cultural differences, and of course communications when you can't call a meeting and get everyone into the same room.
There are other books available that discuss the pros and cons of outsourcing things like software development. Again that's not this book. This book presumes that the decisions have been made and it's now up to you to get the job done.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2006
Managing without Walls is a great book because it is so applicable to the real corporate world today. Regardless if you are part of a global team or managing one it offers great tips. I work with people in 5 major locations and I picked up on some great communication and team processes that I can incoporate into my job everyday. Also, it has a thorough table of contents so you can jump around to the parts that are relevant to you.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2007
What a great book! I have recently been given a new project to manage and 80% of my team members are located in India. I have never managed a virtual team before and dealing with the geographical distance, the time difference, language and cultural differences is a bit overwhelming. This book offers a wealth of practical advice on how to manage a virtual team and how to build teamwork between geographically and culturally diverse team members. I have implemented a lot of the processes and methods from this book and it is working really well.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I'm currently managing what this book calls a "split team", with offices in Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden. I was hoping for helpful tips and some examples of how others are managing cross-border issues. While the book is probably a good idea for a person who has not worked with an international team before, I found that most of the points that the authors made were already open doors for me.
Some of the specific chapters were useful. I would think that the most sensible thing to do if you are debating buying the book would be to take a look at the table of contents and see if there are any specific areas where you feel you need support. Had I done that, I am honestly not sure that I would have bought the book because there was not really enough for me.
I was hoping to get less of a generic how-to and instead I had hoped for more specific real-life situations and examples. For a more experienced manager, this might have been more useful. In general, the forms and examples that the authors make available will be pretty standard stuff to any team that follows good project management principles already.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2007
The case for many workers in the US and around the world is that they have been working in virtual environments for some time now. The virtual environments may vary; from completely virtual where the person is working independently from home or a small office and rarely sees the people face-to-face, that they work with on a daily basis. To other environments where the worker is in an office with one part of their team and other parts of the team are co-located in one or more other locations. Whatever virtual situation you may be in, if you are managing a virtual team and are fairly new to it, then "Managing without Walls" can help you.
A lot has already been written on ways and methods to communicate virtually, the different tools, etc., and Chapter 9 of this book is another one of those. However, I think this one is a must read chapter, though I fear it probably will not be read as thoroughly as it could be. The authors give good examples of how to thoroughly write an email so that there is no question about what the person is asking about, when it is due, etc. In an age where more and more people are using their phones to read and respond to their emails, we are getting back to very short email responses which lead to more questions than they solve. May as well pick up that phone you are using to answer an email and talk to the person...which is also stressed in this book (as well as many others and something I cannot stress enough as well!).
At least part of Chapter 3 will not be relevant for many people who just find themselves managing a remote team, they usually have no choice over who is on the team, or where that team is going to be working from. The chapter on Outsourcing is not really relevant, we have alot written on that already. Chapters 6 and 8 would work for managing any team, whether it is remote or not, does not matter. So if you are new to project management, they may be helpful.
I usually think I am doing a bad job of managing remotely if I have to continually be up both early and up late to talk with the team (I deal with a 10 hour time difference to Ukraine). One or the other is okay on a daily basis, but not at both ends, unless there is an emergency, then sometimes this type of constant connection is necessary. Chapter 12 gives some insights in to managing emergency or high-risk situations in a remote situation. The natural instinct for the one person who is remote (a lot of times the manager) is to want to be on the phone all of the time getting continual updates. But this often interferes with the other side being able to get the work done to handle the disaster. At the same time the other side has to be willing to communicate more often to explain the status of what is happening. The chapter outlines good suggestions for how to handle communications during an emergency situation. Other issues touched on in this chapter include risk planning. For example; planning for personnel issues such as when one employee leaves and starts recruiting others to join him/her, public transportation issues which can affect teams in the US, and be also disruptive to teams in other countries where public transport is the chief means of getting to work. I love this statement which should help anyone kick start their risk management plan; "If the things you are concerned about for your project never change, it is like continuing to worry about your 12-year old concerns when you are 55! This is not a very effective or a good use of your time. It suggests that little progress had been made in the meantime." (pg. 318).
If you are new to managing virtual teams, especially helpful to you will be Appendix A - The Virtual skill set checklists which will help you analyze in what management areas are you ready to manage a remote team and what areas do you still need to work on. Unlike many other books on managing virtual teams, the book does not emphasize the areas where managing a remote team is different from managing a co-located team, save for two areas; the politics of a virtual team and managing conflict within a virtual team.
Whether you are brand new to managing virtual teams, or have been at it for a year or more, a project manager will find something new in this book, just read it though by picking out the chapters most relevant for you.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2007
Over the years, I have managed satellite developers in England, France, India, Australia, and Canada (I'm currently in Southern California). I wish I had read Managing Without Walls years ago, before I started managing remote developers.
Some of the book is based on just pure common sense, like the parts about dealing with time differences, speaking clearly, understanding gestures...the sort of stuff you have to include for completeness. But there is also some real meat here and some genuine insights of the type that you can develop only from having done this type of management for an extended period of time. In particular, I like the section on the stages of cultural adjustment and building multicultural teams. All of my teams went through the exact phases of cultural adjustment outlined in the book. In addition, the idea of celebrating local holidays across the group is an excellent team-building and cultural-learning opportunity. I also like the cookbook-style walkthrough for making the decision of whether to outsource or not. Most of the outsourced projects that I have seen fail could have had their failure predicted by the answers (or lack of answers) to the questions outlined in the book. The book also makes a very clear (and valid) distinction between domestic outsourcing and foreign outsourcing. The decision matrix around which of these solutions you pursue is significantly different.
An interesting, and unexpected, theme of the book is fun and its importance in teambuilding. I encourage my teams to have fun at work and to play well (meaning practical jokes, especially ones where I am the victim). Why? Because as the book points out, a well-executed bit of shenanigans takes a fair amount of teamwork to pull off and--whether it works or not--will generally help pull a team together, even if they are halfway around the world from one another. Most books on management (virtual or not) fail to address or offer good advice on this topic.
Another interesting topic in the book that can normally only be learned through a devastating trial-and-error process is planning for catastrophes. The world that we live in is a dynamic place, and catastrophes threaten our projects from many sides. Having a globally distributed team almost ensures that a catastrophe of one form or another will affect your team at some point in time. In fact, you should be acutely aware of this as part of your risk assessment of the project. The book gives some very pragmatic advice for setting up alternative communication channels and protocols as well as for managing through a catastrophe. Catastrophes will happen, but even a small amount of planning will help your project recover quickly.
If you manage remote or satellite teams, this book is a must-read!
on March 2, 2014
I've been working with geographicaly distrubuted team for the last 10 years and was looking for some tips on how to effectively manage team member overseas ... I could get some tips from chapter #7 and I'm putting them into action. In my opinion this book doesn't have anything really impressive or very inovative, but some good tips easy to follow !
on May 9, 2014
The book arrived quickly and was in perfect condition.
The book is interesting and provides a lot of helpful information about how to effectively lead global or virtual teams.